News of Note
The New Farm Bill's Implications for WTO Disputes on Cotton and Meat Labeling
President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) on February 7. In addition to its widespread impact on the economy and jobs in the United States, the law may affect U.S. trading partners in the context of World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes on cotton subsidies and country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for meat.
On cotton, the law modified government support programs for U.S. cotton producers and did not renew the $147 million annual payments that the United States had made to the Brazilian cotton industry. These payments had staved off trade retaliation against the United States that the WTO had authorized Brazil to impose after it won its challenge of U.S. domestic support programs. Brazil disputes that the new Farm Bill brought the US measures into compliance with WTO rulings and has announced a challenge to the law's WTO-consistency in a compliance panel.
On COOL, the law makes no changes to labeling rules. After losing a dispute with Canada and Mexico at the WTO, the United States amended its regulations, which the Complainants still hold to be WTO-inconsistent. The WTO compliance panel held a hearing on February 18-19 and is expected to rule on U.S. compliance in coming months.